NEW YORK -- While executives at designer firms here and in Europe expressed surprise at Dawn Mello's appointment at Bergdorf Goodman, they said they were elated to hear of her return, citing her strong fashion sense, taste and commitment to designers. They were also thrilled, if not surprised, that Burton Tansky would move to the top post at Neiman Marcus.

Following is a spot check of key sources in New York, Paris and Milan on Thursday's big announcement:

Calvin Klein: The Neiman's and Bergdorf moves are "real genius on Bob Tarr's part." He said, "It's the perfect combination. Burt Tansky heading up the whole Neiman Marcus organization is a natural.

"It's a legend, what Dawn Mello has done for Bergdorf Goodman. I know I can speak for myself and Donna Karan, how much we've missed her. To be running that store with Steve Elkin -- it's the perfect balance."

Neiman's, Klein noted, is "my number-one account in Collections."

"The Neiman's foundation is there and there are so many opportunities for growth within Neiman's that Burt will recognize. No one is better suited for this position."

Klein said that when Mello was previously at Bergdorf's, she took what was an old carriage trade store and made it modern.

"It's the leading fashion store in the U.S., if not the world. That was her doing. She bought the newest designers in every category, first, and made it the store where everyone wants to shop. I credit her with a lot of the success that I've had."

Steve Ruzow, president, The Donna Karan Cos.: "Obviously, we are all excited because Dawn was very instrumental in introducing Donna in 1985. She's been very supportive of Donna, but we also believe she's a great arbiter of fashion. We think this will be fantastic for Bergdorf's."

As for Tansky, Ruzow said, "It's obvious he has all the talents to take Neiman's into the future. I think this is a brilliant move for [Harcourt General], for Neiman's and for Bergdorf's."

Arie Kopelman, president and chief operating officer of Chanel: "Tansky was an obvious choice. I don't think it's any surprise, although I can't really picture him in a 10-gallon hat. But I think he'll do a fabulous job."

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